Author: Michael Evans
My iPad 3G 64GB has arrived at last and my first task, as promised, is to review the Piel Frama leather case that I've had sitting on my desk for the best part of a month. I've already commented on the quality of this case, which is well in line with the company's excellent iPhone cases I've had in the past.
The quality of the leather is first-class and, in black, the case looks the business. I didn't order the shoes. Even though I'm fairly certain Piel Frama didn't have a mock-up device to work with, the fit is snug and without any problems. I suspect the designers worked from published dimensions, so I feared there might be some sloppiness or over-tightness when I offered up the production iPad. I needn't have had any worries on that score.
There is one peculiarity. In the top leather bezel, opposite the home button, there is a seemingly pointless central hole in the leather. This can only be to provide for the currently non-existent front-facing camera. It's in line with the very spot on the chassis where tech commentators have suggested there is internal provision for a camera. Maybe Piel Frama know something we don't know, but with any luck my luxury case will be ready for the second-generation iPad without the need to cut holes in the leather.
The inside of the black case is finished in soft tan leather bearing the repeated Piel Frama logo in diagonal lines. It looks and feels luxurious. There's a full-size pocket in the lid to hold the odd note or receipt (and the supplied cleaning cloth). The top of the case has a double-jointed hinge so that it can be used to prop up the iPad in landscape mode. This works extremely well and allows the use of the Bluetooth keyboard (which is easier to transport than the docking keyboard) to give the overall impression of typing on a laptop. It's also possible to use the lid to prop up the device in portrait mode, although the screen is fully upright and not at the sort of comfortable angle you can achieve in landscape mode.
The padded lid or cover provides great protection for the screen and the corners of the device are well covered. I really cannot imaging carrying around and using an iPad without a case. For one thing, it is very difficult to prop it up without the help of a case. I have just one reservation: the Piel Frama is bulkier and heavier than I would like. It's a trade off between maximum protection and extra bulk.
The Piel Frama iPhone comes in many great colours and two specific variations – one with a magnetic closure, which I strongly recommend, and the other with a press-stud flap. It costs €110 (approximately $140, £95) but this does include VAT and international shipping from Spain.
I have also had the chance to try Apple's much cheaper case which is made from a sort of lightweight neoprene, similar in texture to wet suit material. This case, at $39 excluding sales tax, offers good protection, a versatile prop system and keeps the profile very slim. The iPad inside the Piel Frama case weighs 1,000 gr while with the Apple case it is 100 gr lighter. That's quite significant saving when it comes to packing your bag. The lightweight Apple Bluetooth keyboard (not the keyboard dock) weighs a further 370 gr. So the iPad, with the lightest case, and the keyboard weighs in at 1.27 kg. Compare this with an MacBook Air at 1.36 kg (without case, of course). We shouldn't forget, though, that the iPad is perfectly usable without the keyboard, nor that the iPad power supply unit is lighter and smaller than even the Air's pared-down 45w charger.